Category Archives: Google LatLong Blog

News and notes by the Google Earth and Maps team

Making the internet work better for everyone in Africa

By 2034 Africa is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.1 billion—yet only 3 to 4 million jobs are created annually. That means there’s an urgent need to create opportunities for the millions of people on the continent who are creative, smart and driven to succeed. The internet, and technology as a whole, offer great opportunities for creating jobs, growing businesses and boosting economies. But people need the right skills, tools and products to navigate the digital world and to make it work for them, their businesses and their communities.

Google for Nigeria - Sundar
Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, is interviewed by Nigerian journalist Adesuwa Onyenokwe at our Google for Nigeria event in Lagos.

Today, at our Google for Nigeria event in Lagos, we announced progress we’ve made in our products and features for users in Nigeria, including YouTube, Search and Maps. We also announced initiatives focused on digital skills training, education and economic opportunity, and support for African startups and developers.

Digital Skills for Africa

Last year we set out to help bridge the digital skills gap in Africa when we pledged to train one million young people in the region—and we’ve exceeded this target. Through either in-person or online trainings, we help people learn to build a web presence, use Search to find jobs, get tips to enhance their CV, use social media, and so on. Now we’re expanding this program, and committing to prepare another 10 million people for jobs of the future in the next five years. We’ll also be providing mobile developer training to 100,000 Africans to develop world-class apps, with an initial focus on Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Google.org grants

Our charitable arm, Google.org, is committing $20 million over the next five years to nonprofits that are working to improve lives across Africa. We’re giving $2.5 million in initial grants to the nonprofit arms of African startups Gidi Mobile and Siyavula to provide free access to learning for 400,000 low-income students in South Africa and Nigeria. The grantees will also develop new digital learning materials that will be free for anyone to use.

We also want to invite nonprofits from across the continent to share their ideas for how they could impact their community and beyond. So we’re launching a Google.org Impact Challenge in Africa in 2018 to award $5 million in grants. Any eligible nonprofit in Africa can apply, and anyone will be able to help select the best ideas by voting online.

Launchpad Accelerator Africa

We want to do more to support African entrepreneurs in building successful technology companies and products. Based on our global Launchpad Accelerator program, this initiative will provide more than $3 million in equity-free funding, mentorship, working space and access to expert advisers to more than 60 African startups over three years. Intensive three-month programs, held twice per year, will run out of a new Google Launchpad Space in Lagos—the program’s first location outside of the United States.

Making our products work better in Africa

For people to take advantage of digital opportunities, acquiring the right skills and tools is only part of the equation. Online products and services—including ours—also need to work better in Africa. Today, we’re sharing news about how we’re making YouTube, Search and Maps more useful and relevant for Nigerian users.

YouTube Go

Designed from the ground up, YouTube Go lets you discover, save and share videos you love in a way that’s transparent about the size of downloads. Designed to be “offline” first, the app improves the experience of watching videos on a slower network and gives control over the amount of data used streaming or saving videos. It’s a full YouTube experience, with fresh and relevant video recommendations tailored to your preferences and the ability to share videos quickly and easily with friends nearby.  In June, Nigeria became the second country where we started actively testing YouTube Go. Later this year, we’ll be expanding this to a beta launch of the app, available to all Nigerian users.

Lagos now on Street View in Google Maps

In the last few months, we’ve improved our address search experience in Lagos, by adding thousands of new addresses and streets, outlines of more than a million buildings in commercial and residential areas, and more than 100,000 additional Nigerian small businesses on Google Maps. Today we’re launching Lagos on Street View, with 10,000 kilometers of imagery, including the most important historic roads in the city. You can virtually drive along the Carter Bridge to the National Stadium or across the Eko Bridge, down to the Marina—all on your smartphone.

Faster web results

When you’re on a 2G-like connection or using a low storage device, pages can take a long time to load. We previously launched a feature that streamlines search results so they load with less data and at high speed.  Today we’re extending that feature to streamline websites you reach from search results, so that they load with 90 percent less data and five times faster, even on low storage devices.  

More local information in Search

We’ve also made several updates to Search to bring more useful, relevant answers and information to people in Nigeria:

  • Knowledge Panels: We’re connecting people with easy access to the answers to things they care about, displaying knowledge cards for everything from local football teams to Nigerian musicians and actors.

  • Health Cards: Later this year we’ll launch more than 800 knowledge cards detailing common symptoms and treatments for the most prevalent health conditions in Nigeria. We’ve partnered with the University of Ibadan to ensure that answers have been reviewed by Nigerian doctors for local relevance and accuracy. Nigeria is one of the first countries where we’re providing locally tailored health answers on Search.  

  • Posts on Google: Posts makes it possible for musicians, entertainers and other public figures to share updates, images and videos directly on Google, for people to see while they explore on the web. Nigeria is the third country where we’ve made this feature available and some of the country’s popular musicians are already using it.

The things we’re announcing today are what drive us—building platforms and products that are relevant and useful for billions, not just the few, and helping people to succeed in the digital economy. That’s why we hope to equip more people, in Africa and elsewhere, with digital skills and tools. We’re excited to be part of Africa’s evolving digital story.

Source: Google LatLong


Trusted Contacts now on iOS

Last December on Android we introduced the Trusted Contacts app, a new way for you to let your friends and family know you’re safe. Loved ones can request your location––even if your phone is offline or you can’t get to it. You can also proactively share your location in everyday or emergency situations. Now we’re bringing Trusted Contacts to iOS—so no matter what kind of device you’re using, you can be a little more at ease.

We’ve also made some updates for Android users to make it even easier to feel safe and give your loved ones peace of mind.

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Control how quickly your location is shared

In preparation for a situation where you might need help but can’t answer your phone—imagine you get lost while hiking and lose service—you can choose how long to wait before your location is automatically shared with a trusted contact who asks for your location. Previously set to five minutes by default, you can now choose to share immediately or wait up to an hour.

Add trusted contacts by phone number

You can now add trusted contacts by phone number, as well as by email address. When you type in a phone number, an SMS is sent to that person with an invitation to connect. If they accept, then they become a trusted contact and you'll see their name and profile picture in your app from then on.

New language support

With this update, Trusted Contacts is available in nine new languages for a total of 25 worldwide: Amharic (Ethiopia), Greek (Greece), Persian (Iran), Bahasa (Indonesia), Macedonian (Macedonia), Burmese (Myanmar), Nepali (Nepal), Serbian (Serbia) and Urdu (Pakistan).

Download Trusted Contacts for iPhone on the App Store or for Android on the Play Store. If you already have the Android app installed, make sure you’re using the latest version of the app (version 1.5).

Source: Google LatLong


Experience Tunisia’s rich culture with Street View Imagery

My Street View journey took me to Tunisia, home to beautiful sun soaked beaches, ancient Roman ruins, and Islamic monuments. And now you can explore Tunisia on Street view too.

The first stop is the Amphitheatre of El Djem, the largest Roman amphitheatre in North Africa, located in the heart of Tunisia. This beautiful monument stands in the midst of a lively and vibrant town—El Djem—-previously known as “Thysdrus,” a prosperous town during the reign of the Roman Empire.

As you walk through the arena, imagine 35,000 cheering spectators gathered in the auditorium to watch gladiators and lions raised and lowered from cells to meet their fate. As the cheering crowd fades, you are brought back to the present, and the crowd’s roars are replaced with sound of birds chirping and leaves rustling in the cornerstone of El Djem.

Then I went on to explore the massive city of Carthage, founded in the 9th Century B.C and home to an iconic civilization. It is also the hometown of the famed warrior and military leader, Hannibal, who grew to lead victorious battles. Today, Tunisians regard Carthage and the memory of Hannibal with a strong sense of pride. Use Street View to take a stroll through the Theatre of Carthage, Cisterns of La Malaga, Basilica of Damus al-Karita and the Baths of Antoninus which face the stunning view of the Mediterranean.

Next we visited Dougga, an ancient Roman Town that was built on a hill and flourished during the Roman and Byzantine times. Take a walk through its beautiful ruins which have been around for more than six centuries, and envision the daily life of people in a typical Roman town. Let the monuments left behind give you a glimpse into the Numidian, Punic, Hellenistic, and Roman cultures. Stroll around the site with Street View and stop to gaze up at The Capitol, a Roman Temple dedicated to Rome’s protective triad; Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.

To delve into some of Tunisia’s beautiful Islamic architecture during the early centuries, we stopped by Sousse. This gorgeous city lies on the Tunisian Sahel with monuments to admire such as the Ribat of Sousse as well as the city’s Great Mosque. Take a walk through the vast courtyard of the mosque, the stairs will lead you to the watchtowers where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the mosque and its surroundings.

Finally,  my favorite part of the journey was going to the different Museums spread across Tunisia. Some of these include The National Bardo Museum, Sbeïtla Archaeological Museum, Utique Museum and The National Museum of Carthage. The rich collection of artifacts displayed tell their own stories, especially the beautiful collection of Roman Mosaics in The Bardo. Make sure to take a tour of your own.

We hope that we have inspired you to take a moment to step into the wonder that is Tunisia. For more highlights from Tunisia Street View collection, visit Tunisia Highlights

Source: Google LatLong


Welcome to Outer Space View

Editor’s note:  Starting today, you can now explore the International Space Station in Street View in Google Maps. Thomas Pesquet, Astronaut at the European Space Agency (ESA), spent six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a flight engineer. He returned to Earth in June 2017, and in this post he tells us about what it’s like to live on the ISS and his experience capturing Street View imagery in zero gravity.  

In the six months that I spent on the International Space Station, it was difficult to find the words or take a picture that accurately describes the feeling of being in space. Working with Google on my latest mission, I captured Street View imagery to show what the ISS looks like from the inside, and share what it’s like to look down on Earth from outer space.

For 16 years, astronauts have been working and living on the ISS, a structure made up of 15 connected modules that floats 250 miles above Earth. The ISS acts as a base for space exploration—possible future missions to the Moon,Mars and asteroids—and gives us a unique perspective on Earth itself. We can collect data on the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and land surface. We can conduct experiments and studies that we wouldn’t be able to do from Earth, like monitoring how the human body reacts to microgravity, solving mysteries of the immune system, studying  cyclones in order to alert populations and governments when a storm is approaching, or monitoring marine litter—the rapidly increasing amount of waste found in our oceans.

There were a few “firsts” on my mission. It was led by Peggy Whitson who, at age 56, became the oldest woman to fly into space and the first woman in history to command two expeditions. The mission was the first time Street View imagery was captured beyond planet Earth, and the first time annotations—helpful little notes that pop up as you explore the ISS—have been added to the imagery. They provide additional information or fun facts like where we work out to stay physically fit, what kind of food we eat, and where we conduct scientific experiments.

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Node 1 (Unity) Peggy Whitson and friends dining at the galley table - big enough for six astronauts.

Because of the particular constraints of living and working in space, it wasn't possible to collect Street View using Google's usual methods. Instead, the Street View team worked with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to design a gravity-free method of collecting the imagery using DSLR cameras and equipment already on the ISS. Then I collected still photos in space, that were sent down to Earth where they were stitched together to create panoramic 360 degree imagery of the ISS.

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Node 2 (Harmony) Crew Quarters - Astronaut Sandra Magnus, Expedition 18 flight engineer, poses for a photo in her crew compartment.

We did a lot of troubleshooting before collecting the final imagery that you see today in Street View. The ISS has technical equipment on all surfaces, with lots of cables and a complicated layout with modules shooting off in all directions—left, right, up, down. And it’s a busy place, with six crew members carrying out research and maintenance activities 12 hours a day. There are a lot of obstacles up there, and we had limited time to capture the imagery, so we had to be confident that our approach would work. Oh, and there’s that whole zero gravity thing.

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Joint Airlock (Quest) - This area contains space suits also known as Extravehicular Mobility Units.  They provide crew members with life support that enables extravehicular activity.

None of this would have been possible without the work of the team on the ground, my colleagues (turned roommates) on the ISS, and the countries that came together to send us up to space. Looking at Earth from above made me think about my own world a little differently, and I hope that the ISS on Street View changes your view of the world too.

Click here to go behind the scenes with Thomas and the team.

Source: Google LatLong


Game of Thrones: The old Views and the new

Warning: This post is dark and full of spoilers.

Ned Stark always warned, “winter is coming.” The white raven confirmed that it’s finally here, and so is the season seven premiere of “Game of Thrones.” Fans have been waiting a year for the new season, but our watch hasn’t ended—the Street View team has been assembling a collection of “Game of Thrones” filming locations longer than Arya Stark’s kill list. As you prepare for the episodes to come, you can go back to the iconic places and scenes with the most famous families in the Seven Kingdoms: the Starks, Lannisters and Targaryens.

We promised the Views, and a Googler always pays her debts:

The Starks and friends

  • Winterfell, home of the Stark family, is shot at Doune Castle in the Stirling district of central Scotland and at Castle Ward in Northern Ireland. Perhaps the dual Irish/Scottish influence is the reason for the Starks’ confusing accent?

  • One man’s best friend is another man’s House sigil. In the forest near Winterfell—shot in Tollymore Forest Park in Northern Ireland’s Mourne Mountains—Ned Stark discovers a pack of six direwolves, each gifted to a Stark child. And as the saying goes, all dogs—or at least four of the Stark direwolves—go to heaven.

  • In the Frostfang Mountains—filmed in Höfðabrekka, Iceland—Qhorin Halfhand, Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch expedition take Ygritte as their prisoner. And then we’ll wonder “will-they-won’t-they” about Jon and Ygritte for the next eight episodes.

  • ... Until the cave, shot at the Grjótagjá cave in Iceland. Here Jon breaks his Night's Watch vows and Ygritte wants to stay in the cave forever.

  • Braavos is home to the Iron Bank—which is filmed at St. Jacob Cathedral in Sibenik, Croatia—as well as the House of Black and White, the temple dedicated to the Many-Faced God where Arya trains with Jaqen H'ghar. Hard to say how his team of face-shifters would cope in Street View's world of Blurry Men.

  • Where the tall people come to fight. When Brienne and Podrick miraculously find Arya, Brienne can finally fulfill her promise to Catelyn Stark and bring Arya to safety—if she’s not out-foxed by the Hound. Three minutes of bloody battle were filmed over three days in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland.

  • In one of Bran Stark’s visions, Ned goes to the Tower of Joy in the Red Mountains—filmed at The Castle of Zafra in Guadalajara, Spain—to rescue his sister Lyanna. Here we learn the truth about Jon Snow’s parentage (and that Ned has been rocking the same hairdo for 17 years).

  • Watch out, Westeros. Samwell Tarly—killer of White Walkers and best friend of the King in the North—is carrying a sword made of Valyrian steel and he’s training to become a maester at the Citadel Grand Library (filmed at the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants in Girona, Spain).

The Lannisters and their enemies

  • King's Landing is the capital city of Westeros, home of the Iron Throne. The Targaryens had it, Jamie Lannister stabbed King Aerys in the back for it, and now everyone in the Seven Kingdoms is fighting for it. King’s Landing is filmed in Dubrovnik, a medieval walled city in Croatia.

  • The Kingsroad stretches from the Wall down south to King's Landing. We first heard of the Kingsroad when King Robert Baratheon traveled to Winterfell to ask Ned to be his Hand (before Cersei took Ned’s head). In one stretch of the Kingsroad—filmed at the “Dark Hedges” in Northern Ireland—Arya, disguised as a boy bound for the Night’s Watch, escapes from King's Landing.

  • If the Green Gardens of King’s Landing had ears, they’d know more about the goings-on in the Seven Kingdoms than Lord Varys and his little birds. Many secretive strolls and sinister conversations happen in this garden, filmed in a small village about 20 minutes away from Dubrovnik’s Old Town.

  • Dragonstone Beach is lit. This is where Melisandre—the Lord-of-Light worshipping, Jon-Snow-reviving Red Woman—burns the Seven Idols of Westeros and Stannis Baratheon pulls a sword, Lightbringer, out of the flames (he’s ready for battle!). The scene is filmed at Downhill Strand, a beach in Northern Ireland.

  • While Cersei frets about the wellbeing of her daughter—shipped off to Dorne by her Uncle Tyrion—Myrcella is actually frolicking through the gorgeous Water Gardens of Dorne with her one true love Prince Trystane Martell. The Water Gardens are filmed at the Real Alcázar in Seville, Spain.

  • Shame, shame, shame. Just when you thought you’d never feel empathy for Cersei, she’s forced to serve her penance and walk naked through the street as people harass her, spit on her, and throw things at her. This iconic scene takes place on St. Dominic Street in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Daenerys Targaryen, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons

  • Daenerys goes to the House of the Undying—filmed at Minčeta Tower in Dubrovnik, Croatia—to take back her dragons who were stolen by Pyat Pree. When he attempts to bind her in chains, Daenerys orders her dragons to breathe fire, killing Pyat Pree and setting them free.

  • Varys and Tyrion explore The Long Bridge of Volantis on their way to Meereen. While in Volantis, Tyrion is captured by Jorah Mormont and taken to Daenerys, as Jorah’s last ditch effort to win her back. A bridge in Córdoba in Spain was used as a stand-in for the Long Bridge, but CGI was used to make the bridge look larger and to add buildings and markets atop it.

  • Boy declares love for girl by killing for sport in front of thousands of people. Boy saves girl from assailant by throwing a spear into his heart. Girl flies away on dragon. Poor Jorah (so much for that last ditch effort). All this action at the Arena of Meereen was filmed at the Bullring of Osuna in Seville, Spain.

  • At the beginning of the sixth season, Daenerys crosses the Dothraki Sea—filmed in Bardenas Reales, a desert in Northern Spain—after she’s captured by the Dothraki. They’re pretty fired up to take the Queen of Dragons back to their camp … maybe a little too fired up.

Source: Google LatLong


Reserve with Google: Summer bookin’, happens so fast

Whether you’re headed to a backyard barbecue or an all-day beach party, Google is here to help you get ready. Starting today, you can book appointments at spas and salons across the U.S. on Google. So that fresh haircut or palm tree-green mani is only a couple taps away.

To get started, find your favorite salon or spa on Google Maps or Search and look for the “book” button on the business listing. You can also visit the Reserve with Google site to browse recommendations for businesses you never knew were just around the corner.  

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This feature is made possible through partnerships with the top scheduling providers you might already use, including Genbook, SalonRunner, Rosy, Yocale and WellnessLiving. And soon we’ll be adding many more, including Booksy, Envision, MyTime, Schedulicity, Setmore, Shore, SimpleSpa, SuperSalon and TimeTrade.  

You can already book fitness classes with Google right from Search and Maps–and you can expect to find more types of bookable services in the future–so look forward to even more help crossing things off your to-do list.

Source: Google LatLong


I Am Amazon: Discover your connection to the rainforest with Google Earth

For many people around the world, the Amazon is a mysterious faraway land of impenetrable jungles, majestic rivers and indigenous peoples. But what many of us may not realize is that we all have a connection to the Amazon—through the air we breathe, the water that irrigates the food we eat, the natural ingredients in the medicines we use, or the shifting weather patterns that we experience around the globe.

Today we invite you to venture into the heart of the Amazon and discover your connection to the world's largest rainforest through Voyager, Google Earth's storytelling platform. You’ll find 11 new interactive stories about different parts of the vast Brazilian Amazon region, which is home to about 27 million people and a wide array of cultures.

All of these stories are told by the diverse peoples who call the forest home, and some were produced by one of Brazil's greatest storytellers, the acclaimed film director Fernando Meirelles. Combined, they create an immersive web and mobile experience told through video, mapping, audio and 360° virtual reality, covering a broad range of issues facing the future of the rainforest—and, consequently, the planet.

These stories reflect the complexity of the Amazon, which produces 20 percent of the Earth's oxygen and is home to one in 10 of the world's animal species. Learn about the supply chain behind the vast array of forest delicacies, like Brazil nuts and açaí, that end up on supermarket shelves worldwide; or about local economies once dependent on illegal logging that are now reorganized around sustainability efforts; or about Quilombolas, communities of descendants of enslaved peoples, and their struggle to obtain titles for their lands.

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View "I Am Amazon" in Google Earth

Thanks to our partnership with the Instituto Socioambiental, we're also publishing in Google Earth Voyager for the first time a comprehensive atlas of indigenous lands in Brazil and the people who live there. And we're filling in those maps with in-depth interactive stories told by the Amazon communities themselves.

You can learn about indigenous peoples like the Tembé and the Paiter Suruí, who are using monitoring technologies to protect their territories from illegal incursions by outsiders and deforestation; or the Yawanawá, a tribe that under the leadership of women has revived its cultural heritage and carved out a place in the global cosmetics industry by sustainably harvesting urucum, a reddish seed used in lipstick and other products.

These stories are the culmination of 10 years of work with the peoples of the Amazon. Back in 2007, Paiter Suruí leader Chief Almir came across Google Earth and quickly saw its potential to help safeguard the heritage and traditions of his people. So he proposed a partnership with Google that resulted in an online map of Suruí cultural heritage, the first ever indigenous community-led deforestation and forest carbon mapping project. Through this project, the Suruí calculated the value of their forest on the voluntary carbon marketplace, and became the first indigenous community to receive funds for preserving their lands.

Technology is an important tool that is helping us to protect the forest and keep our traditions alive. Ubiratan Suruí Suruí Indigenous People's Association

Over the years, we've built on this work with the Suruí and expanded it to an additional 30 communities in the Amazon, with more to come. We also recently integrated certified Brazilian indigenous territories into Google Maps, all 472 of them.

Since its creation more than a decade ago, Google Earth has always aimed to bring the magic of our planet to everyone in a beautiful, accessible and enriching way. We hope these fascinating stories from the Amazon do all of that and more, inspiring curious minds to explore, learn and care about our vast, fragile planet.

Source: Google LatLong


Building a map for everyone

Many of us take for granted simple things like walking through a doorway, taking the stairs to the next floor, or always having a comfortable seat at a restaurant table. But for tens of millions of people worldwide, those very things aren’t possible unless a place has a wheelchair accessible entrance, elevator or accessible seating. Today we’re introducing a new way to add accessibility details about places to Google Maps and Search.

For those like Luis Duran, who are passionate about helping people better navigate and explore his city––this tool is for you. When you want to share accessibility information about a place or add details about many places quickly, just open Google Maps on Android, open the main menu, and then tap “Your contributions.” Tap “Uncover missing info” and sort by “Accessibility” to find places around you that are missing this kind of information so you can start filling it in. You can also sort by different categories in case you have other information to add as well.

MobileAccessibility

When you need to find out whether a place you’re planning to visit has any of these accessibility features, just find the place on Google Maps (desktop, mobile) or Search (mobile), open the business listing, tap the two-line description, and then scroll down to the accessibility section. From here, you can also add your accessibility and other local knowledge by tapping “Know what features this place has?”

AccessibilityMaps_Screenshot.png

The accessibility attributes you can choose from include: wheelchair-accessible entrances, wheelchair-accessible elevators, wheelchair-accessible seating, and wheelchair-accessible parking. Unsure of how to answer these questions? Here’s a handy guide. If you want to find other Google Maps users who are equally passionate about sharing their knowledge of the world, join the Local Guides program.

With the help of users, we’ve been able to add accessibility information to nearly 7 million places around the world. By sharing your local knowledge, you’re helping us get even closer to enabling everyone, everywhere to easily discover and explore the places that best suit their individual needs.

Source: Google LatLong


More Levels, and more way to contribute for Local Guides

Luis Duran, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is passionate about helping people with disabilities better navigate and explore his city. Kim Flowers, in Melbourne, Australia, believes everyone should think locally and prides herself on helping businesses in her community. Chioma James from Lagos, Nigeria, is working to ensure that victims of sexual crimes can easily find necessary resources like hospitals, police stations and counseling centers. All three of these individuals are Local Guides—people from around the world who help their communities by adding reviews, photos and updated location information to Google Maps.

Contributions

Since 2014, our Local Guides community has grown to more than 30 million contributors. Once you sign up to be a Local Guide, every contribution you make to Google Maps earns you points towards unlocking something new—like early access to new Google Maps features, exclusive contests, events and perks. Over the next few days we’re rolling out updates to the Local Guides program, including a new point system, new levels that unlock different kinds of perks, and new ways to earn points.

Thank you

Certain kinds of contributions that have a higher impact for Google Maps users—like being the first to add a place to the map or leaving a review—earn you more points. In addition, Local Guides now earn points for rating places and checking facts from other community members. All points earned are shown immediately after each contribution, and are visible in the “contribute” tab.

 Just like before, Local Guides Level 2 and above can enjoy early access to new product features, and get occasional perks from Google and local perks from partners. Starting today, in select countries, Local Guides Level 4-10 can redeem a free three-month Google Play Music subscription and 75 percent off rentals in the Google Play Movie store.

Pts V2 Level Up

We’ve added five new levels to Local Guides, bringing the total number from 5 to 10. For levels 4-10, we’ve designed unique badges, giving guides at higher levels a new way to be recognized for their contributions, and helping users quickly identify the Local Guides who contribute the most. These badges will appear next to each Local Guides’ profile picture in Google Maps.

Local Guides: New Points, Levels, Badging and Features

Around the world, Local Guides help people get around easier, navigate and explore with confidence, and support local businesses. We look forward to continuing to work with Local Guides to make the world and local communities more accessible to everyone.

Source: Google LatLong


Finding the Qibla in augmented reality

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The Qibla Finder uses your phone camera to paint a clear blue line towards the Qibla

When people search for the Qibla—the direction Muslims turn to at prayer—they often look for a website or an app to point them in the right direction. Which explains why the word “compass” often pops up when we look at Qibla-related search results over the past five years.

It would be a lot easier to simply hold up your phone and have it tell you the right direction to pray towards. So we’re launching the Qibla Finder (g.co/QiblaFinder), a web app that uses the latest in augmented reality to paint a clear blue line within the imagery your phone camera sees, pointing you towards the Kaaba.

The service is available through your browser today and will be also be available long after Ramadan. Visit our Ramadan Hub (g.co/Ramadan) to find out more about the Qibla Finder and other features to help you observe the month.

Source: Google LatLong